The Glow Up 50 2021: Meet the Visionaries of Beauty

The category is: Beauty. Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but the influence of Black aesthetics upon the beauty industry is unquestionable. Also indisputable is the impact of this year’s TGU 50 Beauty honorees, ten incredible artists, entrepreneurs, advocates and activists (or all of the above) who have changed the face of beauty—literally.

Whether diversifying the shelves of major retailers, disrupting the beauty industry or beautifying some of the world’s most famous faces, this year’s honorees are ensuring that Black beauty—and Black beauty creatives—get the recognition and respect they deserve...and we’re proud to be in the chorus singing their praises.

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Photo: Stefanie Keenan for L’Oréal Paris (Getty Images)
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Autumn Moultrie

Whether you know it or not, Los Angeles-based makeup artist Autumn Moultrie is the beauty mastermind behind many of your favorite celebrity looks; her roster of prominent clients includes Viola Davis, Naomi Osaka, LaKeith Stanfield, Kerry Washington and Amanda Gorman. Known for her artful and deliberate makeup tricks, Moultrie has made a name for herself through her expertise and know-how of playing up her clients’ natural beauty—from Viola Davis’s 2021 Golden Globes makeup look using drugstore brand L’Oréal (for which Davis is a brand ambassador) to Amanda Gorman’s Time magazine cover and Naomi Osaka’s first Vogue cover, Moultrie is the steady hand behind their elegant yet accessible beauty.

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Photo: Courtesy of Sephora
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Danessa Myricks

Rising from self-taught makeup artist to a trustworthy beauty expert, photographer, entrepreneur and master class teacher, Myricks is proof that where passion, creativity, and inclusivity abound, success is likely soon to follow. The creative’s DIY ethos, combined with over two decades’ worth experience in the industry, has made her multifunctional makeup line Danessa Myricks Beauty a favorite among beauty aficionados and novices alike. Pair that with Myricks’ indefatigable energy and positivity, and it’s no wonder she’s landed on our list twice; already a brand ambassador for Morphe, this year Myricks’ beauty brand experienced a major breakthrough, and can now be found on the shelves of Sephora.

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Photo: Frazer Harrison (Getty Images)
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Jackie Aina

When 2019 The Root 100 honoree Jackie Aina hopped onto YouTube in 2009, she had one main goal in mind: to make women of color more visible in the world of beauty—specifically, women with darker complexions. Little did the Army reservist know that her mission and her voice would be enough to take her from a MAC counter in Hawaii to securing multiple collaborations with major beauty brands such as e.l.f. Cosmetics, Artist Couture, Too Faced, Anastasia Beverly Hills and Pat McGrath Labs. Having amassed nearly 3.6 million subscribers and now the owner of her own luxury lifestyle brand, Forvr Mood, Jackie continues to be an enlightening, entertaining, and influential voice championing diversity and inclusion in the beauty industry across race and gender.

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Photo: Julee Wilson - Instagram
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Julee Wilson

If you’ve picked up any Essence magazine over the last handful of years, you know the name Julee Wilson. Even if you don’t know her name, you might have procured a few dope things from her desk to adorn your own. Rising from assistant to the editor-in-chief to staff fashion editor at Real Simple to global beauty director at Essence and now beauty director at Cosmopolitan, Wilson has positioned herself as one of the go-to authorities on “lewks,” lips, and everything in between. Having amassed a loyal following thanks to her unwavering dedication to speaking truth to power when it comes to Black women in beauty and fashion, her vulnerability in sharing intimate real-life moments (like the recent reality of birthing her second child during a global pandemic) and heartfelt anecdotes, Wilson continues to be a breath of fresh air in an industry that arguably needs it now more than ever.

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Photo: Jerod Harris (Getty Images)
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Kristen Noel Crawley

The ongoing pandemic has made us intimately acquainted with masks, but beauty entrepreneur Kristen Noel Crawley built an empire around them—lip masks, that is. Her desire to create the perfect pouty lip with all-natural ingredients birthed KNC Beauty, launched with lip masks that have become celebrity-endorsed staples, thanks to their millennial pink shade and countless appearances on the ‘gram. Based on Crawley’s belief that the lips are the most neglected part of the face, her collagen-infused signature product gives lips the love they deserve. The beauty mogul also launched KNC School of Beauty alongside fellow beauty entrepreneurs Chandra Coleman, Brooke Devard, Karen Young and Olamide Olowe, with a collective mission to “pay it forward and provide opportunities for emerging business like-minded individuals.” Says Crawley: “Having a skincare line has always been my dream and I want to help other Black entrepreneurs who have similar goals and visions.”

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Photo: UomaBeauty.com
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Sharon Chuter

Amid a year laced with racial reckonings and subsequent promises of support and change from various companies and industries, former LVMH exec turned Uoma Beauty founder and creative director Sharon Chuter knew neither words nor black squares were going to suffice. In response, the 2020 TGU 50 honoree started the hashtag #PullUpOrShutUp, an online initiative to demand accountability and transparency from beauty brands when it comes to the amount of Black employees they have both in leadership roles and in their organizations as a whole. The initiative also challenged patrons to withhold monetary support of those orgs until that data was released to the public. That initiative eventually evolved into Pull Up For Change, a digital destination dedicated to fighting for economic opportunities for Black communities.

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Photo: Jason Merritt for InStyle (Getty Images)
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Sir John

Having painted the faces of Serena Williams, Joan Smalls, Mary J. Blige and loyal client Beyoncé, Sir John has undoubtedly cemented his status as one of the top celebrity makeup artists in the world. As 2020 came to a close, he added yet another iconic face and name to his resume: Barbie. In collaboration with Barbie Style, Sir John—who has long been a champion for inclusivity and empowerment in beauty—came up with six diverse dolls sporting different looks across various skin tones, hair textures, and features. It was an impressive, culture-shifting statement for the Buffalo, NY native, who honed his skills working at a MAC counter and credits a stint moonlighting as a makeup artist in a strip club as a launching pad for his career. Mentored by the iconic Pat McGrath, Sir John was clearly destined to become a master in his own right.

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Photo: TerrellMullin.com
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Terrell Mullin 

Since breaking into the industry at just 18 years old, Terrell Mullin has made his mark on the beauty scene. First hired to work on the set of Moesha as a hairstylist, Mullin quickly and effortlessly transitioned to makeup. His expertise only evolved from there; he has been the visionary behind the flawlessly made-up faces of Angela Bassett, Venus Williams, Niecy Nash, Jourdan Dunn, Eva Marcille, Tamar Braxton’s creative director, and most recently (and famously) part of Cynthia Erivo’s glam squad. Mullin has also brought his beauty acumen to television shows, concert tours and fashion photography, including helping to bring the “Queen of Soul” to the small screen as the makeup artist on season three of National Geographic’s Genius, which celebrated the legacy of Aretha Franklin, as portrayed by Erivo.

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Photo: Lys Beauty
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Tisha Thompson

After 15 years in the beauty industry, first as a makeup artist and later as VP of Marketing for clean beauty brand PÜR, Tisha Thompson founded her own brand, LYS Beauty—the first Black-owned clean cosmetics brand to launch at Sephora. Thompson has been a powerhouse in the industry for more than a decade, building her entrepreneurial prowess through roles in beauty product development, brand management, finance, marketing and operations, all of which helped her build the foundation (pun intended) of a clean beauty empire based on the ethos of loving yourself (LYS). Her experience and knowledge have also made Thompson a voice of empowerment in the industry for Black women who uses her incredible breadth of knowledge to make her brand all-inclusive.

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Photo: TrinityMouzon.com
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Trinity Mouzon Wofford

Trinity Mouzon Wofford is Golde’n. At the age of 23, Wofford founded her inside-and-out beauty brand, Golde, to promote wellness and superfoods in a fun, modern, and approachable way. After watching her mother struggle with chronic illness throughout her childhood, Wofford was inspired to create affordable wellness products with easily identifiable ingredients. Her superfood-based company provides customers with an all-encompassing self-care experience, from beauty to internal (and tasty) wellness products such as the “Original Turmeric Latte Blend.” What started as a kitchen-based enterprise has since evolved as Wofford has partnered with retailers such as Urban Outfitters, Goop, Target and Sephora, the latter partnership making her the youngest Black woman to launch a collection at Sephora.

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Want more? Watch our video to see these visionaries in action!

(Video production: Joyzel Acevedo; Animations: Heather Hass)

Maiysha Kai is managing editor of The Glow Up, host of The Root Presents: It's Lit! podcast and Big Beauty Tuesdays, and your average Grammy-nominated goddess next door. May I borrow some sugar?

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